Eclogue VI – Virgil

First my Thalia stooped in sportive mood 

To Syracusan strains, nor blushed within 

The woods to house her. When I sought to tell 

Of battles and of kings, the Cynthian god 

Plucked at mine ear and warned me: ‘Tityrus, 

Beseems a shepherd-wight to feed fat sheep, 

But sing a slender song.’ Now, Varus, I- 

For lack there will not who would laud thy deeds, 

And treat of dolorous wars- will rather tune 

To the slim oaten reed my silvan lay. 

I sing but as vouchsafed me; yet even this 

If, if but one with ravished eyes should read, 

Of thee, O Varus, shall our tamarisks 

And all the woodland ring; nor can there be 

A page more dear to Phoebus, than the page 

Where, foremost writ, the name of Varus stands. 

Speed ye, Pierian Maids! Within a cave 

Young Chromis and Mnasyllos chanced to see 

Silenus sleeping, flushed, as was his wont, 

With wine of yesterday. Not far aloof, 

Slipped from his head, the garlands lay, and there 

By its worn handle hung a ponderous cup. 

Approaching- for the old man many a time 

Had balked them both of a long hoped-for song- 

Garlands to fetters turned, they bind him fast. 

Then Aegle, fairest of the Naiad-band, 

Aegle came up to the half-frightened boys, 

Came, and, as now with open eyes he lay, 

With juice of blood-red mulberries smeared him o’er, 

Both brow and temples. Laughing at their guile, 

And crying, ‘Why tie the fetters? loose me, boys; 

Enough for you to think you had the power; 

Now list the songs you wish for- songs for you, 

Another meed for her’ -forthwith began. 

Then might you see the wild things of the wood, 

With Fauns in sportive frolic beat the time, 

And stubborn oaks their branchy summits bow. 

Not Phoebus doth the rude Parnassian crag 

So ravish, nor Orpheus so entrance the heights 

Of Rhodope or Ismarus: for he sang 

How through the mighty void the seeds were driven 

Of earth, air, ocean, and of liquid fire, 

How all that is from these beginnings grew, 

And the young world itself took solid shape, 

Then ‘gan its crust to harden, and in the deep 

Shut Nereus off, and mould the forms of things 

Little by little; and how the earth amazed 

Beheld the new sun shining, and the showers 

Fall, as the clouds soared higher, what time the woods 

‘Gan first to rise, and living things to roam 

Scattered among the hills that knew them not. 

Then sang he of the stones by Pyrrha cast, 

Of Saturn’s reign, and of Prometheus’ theft, 

And the Caucasian birds, and told withal 

Nigh to what fountain by his comrades left 

The mariners cried on Hylas till the shore 

‘Then Re-echoed ‘Hylas, Hylas! soothed 

Pasiphae with the love of her white bull- 

Happy if cattle-kind had never been!- 

O ill-starred maid, what frenzy caught thy soul 

The daughters too of Proetus filled the fields 

With their feigned lowings, yet no one of them 

Of such unhallowed union e’er was fain 

As with a beast to mate, though many a time 

On her smooth forehead she had sought for horns, 

And for her neck had feared the galling plough. 

O ill-starred maid! thou roamest now the hills, 

While on soft hyacinths he, his snowy side 

Reposing, under some dark ilex now 

Chews the pale herbage, or some heifer tracks 

Amid the crowding herd. Now close, ye Nymphs, 

Ye Nymphs of Dicte, close the forest-glades, 

If haply there may chance upon mine eyes 

The white bull’s wandering foot-prints: him belike 

Following the herd, or by green pasture lured, 

Some kine may guide to the Gortynian stalls. 

Then sings he of the maid so wonder-struck 

With the apples of the Hesperids, and then 

With moss-bound, bitter bark rings round the forms 

Of Phaethon’s fair sisters, from the ground 

Up-towering into poplars. Next he sings 

Of Gallus wandering by Permessus’ stream, 

And by a sister of the Muses led 

To the Aonian mountains, and how all 

The choir of Phoebus rose to greet him; how 

The shepherd Linus, singer of songs divine, 

Brow-bound with flowers and bitter parsley, spake: 

‘These reeds the Muses give thee, take them thou, 

Erst to the aged bard of Ascra given, 

Wherewith in singing he was wont to draw 

Time-rooted ash-trees from the mountain heights. 

With these the birth of the Grynean grove 

Be voiced by thee, that of no grove beside 

Apollo more may boast him.’ Wherefore speak 

Of Scylla, child of Nisus, who, ’tis said, 

Her fair white loins with barking monsters girt 

Vexed the Dulichian ships, and, in the deep 

Swift-eddying whirlpool, with her sea-dogs tore 

The trembling mariners? or how he told 

Of the changed limbs of Tereus- what a feast, 

What gifts, to him by Philomel were given; 

How swift she sought the desert, with what wings 

Hovered in anguish o’er her ancient home? 

All that, of old, Eurotas, happy stream, 

Heard, as Apollo mused upon the lyre, 

And bade his laurels learn, Silenus sang; 

Till from Olympus, loth at his approach, 

Vesper, advancing, bade the shepherds tell 

Their tale of sheep, and pen them in the fold.

Eclogue VII – Virgil

Daphnis beneath a rustling ilex-tree 

Had sat him down; Thyrsis and Corydon 

Had gathered in the flock, Thyrsis the sheep, 

And Corydon the she-goats swollen with milk- 

Both in the flower of age, Arcadians both, 

Ready to sing, and in like strain reply. 

Hither had strayed, while from the frost I fend 

My tender myrtles, the he-goat himself, 

Lord of the flock; when Daphnis I espy! 

Soon as he saw me, ‘Hither haste,’ he cried, 

‘O Meliboeus! goat and kids are safe; 

And, if you have an idle hour to spare, 

Rest here beneath the shade. Hither the steers 

Will through the meadows, of their own free will, 

Untended come to drink. Here Mincius hath 

With tender rushes rimmed his verdant banks, 

And from yon sacred oak with busy hum 

The bees are swarming.’ What was I to do? 

No Phyllis or Alcippe left at home 

Had I, to shelter my new-weaned lambs, 

And no slight matter was a singing-bout 

‘Twixt Corydon and Thyrsis. Howsoe’er, 

I let my business wait upon their sport. 

So they began to sing, voice answering voice 

In strains alternate- for alternate strains 

The Muses then were minded to recall- 

First Corydon, then Thyrsis in reply. 

‘Libethrian Nymphs, who are my heart’s delight, 

Grant me, as doth my Codrus, so to sing- 

Next to Apollo he- or if to this 

We may not all attain, my tuneful pipe 

Here on this sacred pine shall silent hang.’ 

‘Arcadian shepherds, wreathe with ivy-spray 

Your budding poet, so that Codrus burst 

With envy: if he praise beyond my due, 

Then bind my brow with foxglove, lest his tongue 

With evil omen blight the coming bard.’ 

‘This bristling boar’s head, Delian Maid, to thee, 

With branching antlers of a sprightly stag, 

Young Micon offers: if his luck but hold, 

Full-length in polished marble, ankle-bound 

With purple buskin, shall thy statue stand.’ 

‘A bowl of milk, Priapus, and these cakes, 

Yearly, it is enough for thee to claim; 

Thou art the guardian of a poor man’s plot. 

Wrought for a while in marble, if the flock 

At lambing time be filled,stand there in gold.’ 

‘Daughter of Nereus, Galatea mine, 

Sweeter than Hybla-thyme, more white than swans, 

Fairer than ivy pale, soon as the steers 

Shall from their pasture to the stalls repair, 

If aught for Corydon thou carest, come.’ 

‘Now may I seem more bitter to your taste 

Than herb Sardinian, rougher than the broom, 

More worthless than strewn sea-weed, if to-day 

Hath not a year out-lasted! Fie for shame! 

Go home, my cattle, from your grazing go!’ 

‘Ye mossy springs, and grass more soft than sleep, 

And arbute green with thin shade sheltering you, 

Ward off the solstice from my flock, for now 

Comes on the burning summer, now the buds 

Upon the limber vine-shoot ‘gin to swell.’ 

‘Here is a hearth, and resinous logs, here fire 

Unstinted, and doors black with ceaseless smoke. 

Here heed we Boreas’ icy breath as much 

As the wolf heeds the number of the flock, 

Or furious rivers their restraining banks.’ 

‘The junipers and prickly chestnuts stand, 

And ‘neath each tree lie strewn their several fruits, 

Now the whole world is smiling, but if fair 

Alexis from these hill-slopes should away, 

Even the rivers you would ; see run dry.’ 

‘The field is parched, the grass-blades thirst to death 

In the faint air; Liber hath grudged the hills 

His vine’s o’er-shadowing: should my Phyllis come, 

Green will be all the grove, and Jupiter 

Descend in floods of fertilizing rain.’ 

‘The poplar doth Alcides hold most dear, 

The vine Iacchus, Phoebus his own bays, 

And Venus fair the myrtle: therewithal 

Phyllis doth hazels love, and while she loves, 

Myrtle nor bay the hazel shall out-vie.’ 

‘Ash in the forest is most beautiful, 

Pine in the garden, poplar by the stream, 

Fir on the mountain-height; but if more oft 

Thou’ldst come to me, fair Lycidas, to thee 

Both forest-ash, and garden-pine should bow.’ 

These I remember, and how Thyrsis strove 

For victory in vain. From that time forth 

Is Corydon still Corydon with us.

Eclogue VIII – Virgil

Of Damon and Alphesiboeus now, 

Those shepherd-singers at whose rival strains 

The heifer wondering forgot to graze, 

The lynx stood awe-struck, and the flowing streams, 

Unwonted loiterers, stayed their course to hear- 

How Damon and Alphesiboeus sang 

Their pastoral ditties, will I tell the tale. 

Thou, whether broad Timavus’ rocky banks 

Thou now art passing, or dost skirt the shore 

Of the Illyrian main,- will ever dawn 

That day when I thy deeds may celebrate, 

Ever that day when through the whole wide world 

I may renown thy verse- that verse alone 

Of Sophoclean buskin worthy found? 

With thee began, to thee shall end, the strain. 

Take thou these songs that owe their birth to thee, 

And deign around thy temples to let creep 

This ivy-chaplet ‘twixt the conquering bays. 

Scarce had night’s chilly shade forsook the sky 

What time to nibbling sheep the dewy grass 

Tastes sweetest, when, on his smooth shepherd-staff 

Of olive leaning, Damon thus began. 

‘Rise, Lucifer, and, heralding the light, 

Bring in the genial day, while I make moan 

Fooled by vain passion for a faithless bride, 

For Nysa, and with this my dying breath 

Call on the gods, though little it bestead- 

The gods who heard her vows and heeded not. 

‘Begin, my flute, with me Maenalian lays. 

Ever hath Maenalus his murmuring groves 

And whispering pines, and ever hears the songs 

Of love-lorn shepherds, and of Pan, who first 

Brooked not the tuneful reed should idle lie. 

‘Begin, my flute, with me Maenalian lays. 

Nysa to Mopsus given! what may not then 

We lovers look for? soon shall we see mate 

Griffins with mares, and in the coming age 

Shy deer and hounds together come to drink. 

‘Begin, my flute, with me Maenalian lays. 

Now, Mopsus, cut new torches, for they bring 

Your bride along; now, bridegroom, scatter nuts: 

Forsaking Oeta mounts the evening star! 

‘Begin, my flute, with me Maenalian lays. 

O worthy of thy mate, while all men else 

Thou scornest, and with loathing dost behold 

My shepherd’s pipe, my goats, my shaggy brow, 

And untrimmed beard, nor deem’st that any god 

For mortal doings hath regard or care. 

‘Begin, my flute, with me Maenalian lays. 

Once with your mother, in our orchard-garth, 

A little maid I saw you- I your guide- 

Plucking the dewy apples. My twelfth year 

I scarce had entered, and could barely reach 

The brittle boughs. I looked, and I was lost; 

A sudden frenzy swept my wits away. 

‘Begin, my flute, with me Maenalian lays. 

Now know I what Love is: ‘mid savage rocks 

Tmaros or Rhodope brought forth the boy, 

Or Garamantes in earth’s utmost bounds- 

No kin of ours, nor of our blood begot. 

‘Begin, my flute, with me Maenalian lays. 

Fierce Love it was once steeled a mother’s heart 

With her own offspring’s blood her hands to imbrue: 

Mother, thou too wert cruel; say wert thou 

More cruel, mother, or more ruthless he? 

Ruthless the boy, thou, mother, cruel too. 

‘Begin, my flute, with me Maenalian lays. 

Now let the wolf turn tail and fly the sheep, 

Tough oaks bear golden apples, alder-trees 

Bloom with narcissus-flower, the tamarisk 

Sweat with rich amber, and the screech-owl vie 

In singing with the swan: let Tityrus 

Be Orpheus, Orpheus in the forest-glade, 

Arion ‘mid his dolphins on the deep. 

‘Begin, my flute, with me Maenalian lays. 

Yea, be the whole earth to mid-ocean turned! 

Farewell, ye woodlands I from the tall peak 

Of yon aerial rock will headlong plunge 

Into the billows: this my latest gift, 

From dying lips bequeathed thee, see thou keep. 

Cease now, my flute, now cease Maenalian lays.’ 

Thus Damon: but do ye, Pierian Maids- 

We cannot all do all things- tell me how 

Alphesiboeus to his strain replied. 

‘Bring water, and with soft wool-fillet bind 

These altars round about, and burn thereon 

Rich vervain and male frankincense, that I 

May strive with magic spells to turn astray 

My lover’s saner senses, whereunto 

There lacketh nothing save the power of song. 

‘Draw from the town, my songs, draw Daphnis home. 

Songs can the very moon draw down from heaven 

Circe with singing changed from human form 

The comrades of Ulysses, and by song 

Is the cold meadow-snake, asunder burst. 

‘Draw from the town, my songs, draw Daphnis home. 

These triple threads of threefold colour first 

I twine about thee, and three times withal 

Around these altars do thine image bear: 

Uneven numbers are the god’s delight. 

‘Draw from the town, my songs, draw Daphnis home. 

Now, Amaryllis, ply in triple knots 

The threefold colours; ply them fast, and say 

This is the chain of Venus that I ply. 

‘Draw from the town, my songs, draw Daphnis home. 

As by the kindling of the self-same fire 

Harder this clay, this wax the softer grows, 

So by my love may Daphnis; sprinkle meal, 

And with bitumen burn the brittle bays. 

Me Daphnis with his cruelty doth burn, 

I to melt cruel Daphnis burn this bay. 

‘Draw from the town, my songs, draw Daphnis home. 

As when some heifer, seeking for her steer 

Through woodland and deep grove, sinks wearied out 

On the green sedge beside a stream, love-lorn, 

Nor marks the gathering night that calls her home- 

As pines that heifer, with such love as hers 

May Daphnis pine, and I not care to heal. 

‘Draw from the town, my songs, draw Daphnis home. 

These relics once, dear pledges of himself, 

The traitor left me, which, O earth, to thee 

Here on this very threshold I commit- 

Pledges that bind him to redeem the debt. 

‘Draw from the town, my songs, draw Daphnis home. 

These herbs of bane to me did Moeris give, 

In Pontus culled, where baneful herbs abound. 

With these full oft have I seen Moeris change 

To a wolf’s form, and hide him in the woods, 

Oft summon spirits from the tomb’s recess, 

And to new fields transport the standing corn. 

‘Draw from the town, my songs, draw Daphnis home. 

Take ashes, Amaryllis, fetch them forth, 

And o’er your head into the running brook 

Fling them, nor look behind: with these will 

Upon the heart of Daphnis make essay. 

Nothing for gods, nothing for songs cares he. 

‘Draw from the town, my songs, draw Daphnis home. 

Look, look I the very embers of themselves 

Have caught the altar with a flickering flame, 

While I delay to fetch them: may the sign 

Prove lucky! something it must mean, for sure, 

And Hylax on the threshold ‘gins to bark! 

May we believe it, or are lovers still 

By their own fancies fooled? 

Give o’er, my songs, 

Daphnis is coming from the town, give o’er.’

Eclogue IX – Virgil


Say whither, Moeris?- Make you for the town, 

Or on what errand bent? 
Moeris. O Lycidas, 

We have lived to see, what never yet we feared, 

An interloper own our little farm, 

And say, ‘Be off, you former husbandmen! 

These fields are mine.’ Now, cowed and out of heart, 

Since Fortune turns the whole world upside down, 

We are taking him- ill luck go with the same!-‘ 

These kids you see. 

But surely I had heard 

That where the hills first draw from off the plain, 

And the high ridge with gentle slope descends, 

Down to the brook-side and the broken crests 

Of yonder veteran beeches, all the land 

Was by the songs of your Menalcas saved. 

Heard it you had, and so the rumour ran, 

But ‘mid the clash of arms, my Lycidas, 

Our songs avail no more than, as ’tis said, 

Doves of Dodona when an eagle comes. 

Nay, had I not, from hollow ilex-bole 

Warned by a raven on the left, cut short 

The rising feud, nor I, your Moeris here, 

No, nor Menalcas, were alive to-day. 

Alack! could any of so foul a crime 

Be guilty? Ah! how nearly, thyself, 

Reft was the solace that we had in thee, 

Menalcas! Who then of the Nymphs had sung, 

Or who with flowering herbs bestrewn the ground, 

And o’er the fountains drawn a leafy veil?- 

Who sung the stave I filched from you that day 

To Amaryllis wending, our hearts’ joy?- 

‘While I am gone, ’tis but a little way, 

Feed, Tityrus, my goats, and, having fed, 

Drive to the drinking-pool, and, as you drive, 

Beware the he-goat; with his horn he butts.’ 

Ay, or to Varus that half-finished lay, 

‘Varus, thy name, so still our Mantua live- 

Mantua to poor Cremona all too near- 

Shall singing swans bear upward to the stars.’ 

So may your swarms Cyrnean yew-trees shun, 

Your kine with cytisus their udders swell, 

Begin, if aught you have. The Muses made 

Me too a singer; I too have sung; the swains 

Call me a poet, but I believe them not: 

For naught of mine, or worthy Varius yet 

Or Cinna deem I, but account myself 

A cackling goose among melodious swans. 

‘Twas in my thought to do so, Lycidas; 

Even now was I revolving silently 

If this I could recall- no paltry song: 

‘Come, Galatea, what pleasure is ‘t to play 

Amid the waves? Here glows the Spring, here earth 

Beside the streams pours forth a thousand flowers; 

Here the white poplar bends above the cave, 

And the lithe vine weaves shadowy covert: come, 

Leave the mad waves to beat upon the shore.’ 

What of the strain I heard you singing once 

On a clear night alone? the notes I still 

Remember, could I but recall the words. 

‘Why, Daphnis, upward gazing, do you mark 

The ancient risings of the Signs? for look 

Where Dionean Caesar’s star comes forth 

In heaven, to gladden all the fields with corn, 

And to the grape upon the sunny slopes 

Her colour bring! Now, the pears; 

So shall your children’s children pluck their fruit. 

Time carries all things, even our wits, away. 

Oft, as a boy, I sang the sun to rest, 

But all those songs are from my memory fled, 

And even his voice is failing Moeris now; 

The wolves eyed Moeris first: but at your wish 

Menalcas will repeat them oft enow. 

Your pleas but linger out my heart’s desire: 

Now all the deep is into silence hushed, 

And all the murmuring breezes sunk to sleep. 

We are half-way thither, for Bianor’s tomb 

Begins to show: here, Moeris, where the hinds 

Are lopping the thick leafage, let us sing. 

Set down the kids, yet shall we reach the town; 

Or, if we fear the night may gather rain 

Ere we arrive, then singing let us go, 

Our way to lighten; and, that we may thus 

Go singing, I will case you of this load. 

Cease, boy, and get we to the work in hand: 

We shall sing better when himself is come